By Paris365 on December 18, 2012

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Pony Canyon

It's hard to believe, but J-pop boy band Lead is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. "Still" is their 20th single since they first debuted on July 31st, 2002 with "真夏のMagic" (translation: "Mid-Summer Magic"). While they can sing and harmonize brilliantly, Lead initially gained popularity for the large presence of hip-hop in their songs. Today, most of their songs continue to have at least one hip-hop verse, but they've become increasingly popular because of their remarkable melodies and hook-filled songs.

"Still" is a bit of a departure for Lead, being that it's their first dance song. Which isn't to say that you couldn't dance to any of their songs in the past, but those songs were always pop songs at their core. This time the guys set out to deliberately create a full-blown dance song. It begins with some fluttery synthesized beats, which continue as the strong mid-tempo dance beat begins and somewhat crunchy guitars join the mix. But it's the sweeping strings that stand out most, perhaps even more so than the beat. "Still, still, still a life brand-new," they sing during the infectious chorus, perhaps proclaiming that they can still try new things. Each time they finish singing the chorus, there's essentially a second chorus, which is a rap. Mixing all of these styles and instruments could be a recipe for disaster but it all comes together beautifully here.

The B-side, "冬色ガール" (Google translation: "Winter Color Girl"), is more like the super catchy pop the group is known for. You could dance to the beat, but it doesn't quite feel like a quote unquote dance song. I was especially impressed by the bass guitar playing, which keeps the rhythm perfectly along with the presumably programmed beat. As for the vocals, the guys sound vibrant and even uplifting. And, while they don't appear throughout the song, it has a healthy dose of soaring strings as well. Ultimately, this is the sort of B-side that will have you wondering why they didn't wait and release it as their next A-side. -Michael McCarthy

There are five additional versions of this single available, all of which are limited edition first pressing releases. Each features a unique third B-side and one version comes with a DVD.

Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Follow Michael on Twitter https://twitter.com/paris365.

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